Friday, May 02, 2008

King Leary, the digested read

Lads, let the book clubbing begin, man-style. Since I'm currently unemployed (for the month) I've already finished the book and a few others... and wanted to get fingers to keys before nostalgia set in.
The latest trend in reviewing seems to be the “brief-review.” The appeal of brevity, according to Slate’s Michael Agger, “is that it will help us cope with the onslaught of music, movies, books, magazines, television shows, and blogs.” Read: we’re lazy and easily distracted.
This so-called “boom” in brief-review sites included The Four Word Film Review and Paul Ford’s six-word music reviews. But the ancestor, according to Agger, is the Guardian’s The Digested Read. Indeed, as he puts it: “When you need to skewer a pretentious book in six paragraphs, only an Englishman will do.”
The Guardian’s reviews – all 400 words or less – are pretty deliberate, but pretty funny. They even digest their own reviews, and provide their recommendation in less than six words. In their latest review of Deaf Sentence by David Lodge they mimic the author in a long-winded back-and-forth dialogue that takes apart the author’s own poor use of dialogue. They usually try to take the voice of the author – or a close resemblance – all the while hacking the book to shreds.
The verdict or, as they call it, “the digested read, digested,” on Lodge’s book is simply: “Wait for the audio-book.” I would say the same thing about King Leary, but CBC took care of that already.
Regardless, here’s my attempt at mocking Quarrington in my own digested read followed by my digested read, digested. I’ll leave my real comments on the book in the comments section to be skewered with equal fervor, I’m sure.
I loved the book, for the record but mostly because I suggested it.
King Leary by Paul Quarrington
Anchor Canada, $19.95
David Hutton
Tuesday May 5, 2008
Don’t Talk About Book Club
Today’s the day.
Or is it? I forget. Where am I? Back at that funeral again with Manny “The Wizard” Oz. Well, Manfred Armstrong Ozikean, really, but it would be some years before he became The Wizard, the Witch Doctor. But that’s another story for the next chapter and the chapter after that and, hell, maybe the next one, too.
Clarence? Where’s that Gormless Clifford (whose wife abandoned him) and his fat hands? If I just keep referencing that he’s fat you’ll eventually get the point that he’s fat. Oh, and he drinks. Did I say that already? Smokes, too.
I’m King Leary, born in One Nine Zero Five and raised in Bytown. You’re going to learn a lot about me and then I’ll keep repeating myself until you get the point. I get drunk on Ginger Ale, Canada Dry. And I’m going to tell you that at least a dozen times in the coming pages.
This is supposed to be where I insert a reference to some old hockey player or team that may or not have existed. I don’t know what I’m talking about, never did, never will. Okay, I know, I’ll do what old Blue Hermann, the greatest newspaperman ever to writer about me, would do. Blue would always follow me around.
We’re off to Toronto to meet this Claire thing, giving me a perfect and easy narrative arc. I’m going to reflect on my career, St. Louis Whirlygig-style.
We’re in Toronto. Drunks everywhere. Blue Hermann has had more hangovers than anyone in the history of the world. And I’m the greatest hockey player ever to live, if I don’t say so myself.
I could get technical on you, and explain the ins and the outs, but I don’t really know myself. Just like me executing the famous St. Louis Whirlygig, the best of all airborne maneuvers, and of unspeakable beauty. Have I told you about that?
Read between the lines, already.
Or that Gormless Clifford? Fat slob. Where is this story going? Oh yeah, I was trying to make a point about something but I’m still not sure what. Alcoholism? Complicity? Old age? Social withdrawal? Mythology? Denial?
I know, I’ll insert Wayne Gretzky into the book… but I won’t call him Gretzky and I’ll make him a drinker, too. The NHL is just as manly now as it was in One Nine One Five.
I need a drink, don’t I? No. Maybe? Have I told you about Manny? Clay told this story at Manfred’s funeral. Manny died in a hotel room in New York, New York.
“I am ag├Ęd and infirm!” says I. “I shouldn’t be kept out past eight-thirty or nine. Here it is almost eleven.”
Off to the Canadian Sports Hall of Fame.
Oh, there’s Clay Bors Clinton, the son of bee who was my bestest friend. That son of a bee is everywhere and nowhere, whirlgigging in and out.
Today’s the day. It’s time to for me to die. Hellzapoppin. Or is it?
The digested read, digested: hellzapoppin pace slowed by hellzapoppin repetition…


Hutton said...

The book was good. There’s no doubt that Paul Quarrington is funny and maybe even damn funny. King Percival Leary is one of the best and most complex characters I’ve read in a Canadian novel in a long time.

The dialogue is sharp and the character of Leary is so complex despite the constant humour. I was surprised when I discovered that the novel was written in One Nine Eight Seven. A lot of the commentary on the culture of hockey stands true today.

But I just found there were a few too many running gags that got annoying over time. There’s only so many times I can hear the same thing repeated in a story, over and over again. This became annoying.

So, all in all, I would've enjoyed it more 15 years ago. But it still stands up.

Garry said...

Great review, hutton - though your overachieving ways have doomed us all to be put to shame.